The back streets of Basra, Iraq, are a mix of modern housing, 19th century wooden balconies, and crumbling infrastructure.

The back streets of Basra, Iraq, are a mix of modern housing, century wooden balconies, and crumbling infrastructure.

Saddam Hussein's former palace faces the Shatt Al Arab River just south of Basra, Iraq. After the 2003 war the palace was occupied by British troops and then looted by the locals when the Brits left.

Saddam Hussein's former palace faces the Shatt Al Arab River just south of Basra, Iraq. After the 2003 war the palace was occupied by British troops and then looted by the locals when the Brits left.

The wall of the Armenian church compound stands on a Basra street dominated by a minaret.

The wall of the Armenian church compound stands on a Basra street dominated by a minaret.

A row of traditional 19th century houses called Shanashels stands along a canal in Basra, Iraq. Abdul Latif Mandel House on the right has an intricate overhanging balcony and pointed windows.

A row of traditional century houses called Shanashels stands along a canal in Basra, Iraq. Abdul Latif Mandel House on the right has an intricate overhanging balcony and pointed windows.

Iraq's national dish is masgouf, carp split down the middle and slowly grilled on a fire altar. Baghdad is famous for its masgouf restaurants along the Tigris River but it's also available in Basra.

Iraq's national dish is masgouf, carp split down the middle and slowly grilled on a fire altar. Baghdad is famous for its masgouf restaurants along the Tigris River but it's also available in Basra.

Access to Saddam Hussein's former palace complex in Basra, Iraq, is through this ramshackle gateway.

Access to Saddam Hussein's former palace complex in Basra, Iraq, is through this ramshackle gateway.

A scenic Corniche promenade runs along the Shatt Al Arab River at Basra, Iraq. The Arabian Nights folk hero Sinbad the Sailor set out on his adventures from Basra.

A scenic Corniche promenade runs along the Shatt Al Arab River at Basra, Iraq. The Arabian Nights folk hero Sinbad the Sailor set out on his adventures from Basra.

The Imam Ali ibn Talib Mosque on the outskirts of Basra, Iraq, was the first to be built in Iraq following the Arab conquest in 636. Only part of the minaret remains from the original mosque.

The Imam Ali ibn Talib Mosque on the outskirts of Basra, Iraq, was the first to be built in Iraq following the Arab conquest in 636. Only part of the minaret remains from the original mosque.

Abdul Salam Manaseer House in Basra, Iraq, is home to the Union of Basra Artists which mounts changing art exhibitions.

Abdul Salam Manaseer House in Basra, Iraq, is home to the Union of Basra Artists which mounts changing art exhibitions.

The Al Ashar Fun City in Basra, Iraq, has a large Ferris wheel.

The Al Ashar Fun City in Basra, Iraq, has a large Ferris wheel.

The Imam Ali Mosque stands beside the grimy Ashar River in the center of Basra, Iraq. Once known as the "Venice of the East", Basra is still reeling from the many wars fought here over the past few decades.

The Imam Ali Mosque stands beside the grimy Ashar River in the center of Basra, Iraq. Once known as the "Venice of the East", Basra is still reeling from the many wars fought here over the past few decades.

The Natural History Museum in Basra, Iraq, formerly occupied the old British consulate building erected in 1903. After the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 the museum was torched by local looters and remains in ruins today.

The Natural History Museum in Basra, Iraq, formerly occupied the old British consulate building erected in After the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 the museum was torched by local looters and remains in ruins today.

Saddam Hussein's presidential yacht, the Al-Mansur, was destroyed by American planes during the 2003 war. It currently lies on its side in the Shatt Al Arab River at Basra, Iraq.

Saddam Hussein's presidential yacht, the Al-Mansur, was destroyed by American planes during the 2003 war. It currently lies on its side in the Shatt Al Arab River at Basra, Iraq.

A new bridge being constructed over the Shatt Al Arab River at Basra, Iraq, will provide easy access to the nearby Shalamche Iraqi-Iranian Border Crossing.

A new bridge being constructed over the Shatt Al Arab River at Basra, Iraq, will provide easy access to the nearby Shalamche Iraqi-Iranian Border Crossing.

The Armenian Church in Basra, Iraq, dates from 1736 but has been rebuilt three times. The portrait of the Virgin Mary in the church was brought from India in 1882.

The Armenian Church in Basra, Iraq, dates from 1736 but has been rebuilt three times. The portrait of the Virgin Mary in the church was brought from India in

Ottoman Viceroy House, a Shanashel (traditional 19th century house) in Basra, Iraq, is in urgent need of repair.

Ottoman Viceroy House, a Shanashel (traditional century house) in Basra, Iraq, is in urgent need of repair.

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